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Draft deadline looms

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HOUSTON — GM Neal Huntington and scouting director Greg Smith are here at Minute Maid Park, and I’ll be chatting with them later this afternoon. Tomorrow’s deadline to sign draft picks will be a topic, but I’m not expecting either exec to say much — MLB has urged clubs to hold off announcing signings until tomorrow.

Huntington is here talking with the Hendricks brothers, the agents who are advising first-round pick Jameson Taillon and second-rounder Stetson Allie. “We’re optimistic (of getting deals),” Huntington said.

Huntington said that, although they are represented by the same advisors, Allie and Taillon are not be offered as a package deal.

There’s a rumor making the rounds on the Internet that one of Allie’s relatives sent a text to someone, saying Allie had signed his contract with the Pirates. Truth? No one I’ve communicated with on the Pirates’ side indicated there’s anything to it … yet. So, we’ll see.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Pirates (39-77) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Garrett Jones 1b, 3. Jose Tabata lf, 4. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 5. Neil Walker 2b, 6. Lastings Milledge rf, 7. Chris Snyder c, 8. Argenis Diaz ss, 9. Jeff Karstens (2-8, 4.39) rhp

Astros (50-65) – 1. Michael Bourn cf, 2. Angel Sanchez ss, 3. Hunter Pence rf, 4. Carlos Lee lf, 5. Jeff Keppinger 2b, 6. Brett Wallace 1b, 7. Chris Johnson 3b, 8. Jason Castro c, 9. J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.45) rhp

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